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Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation

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From left, Johanna Cutolo and Victoria Hren with their awards. Photo from Gurwin

LeadingAge NY has named Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center resident Ms. Victoria Hren and Gurwin Art and Recreation Therapist Ms. Johanna Cutolo, ATR-BC, CTRS, winners in the 2022 LeadingAge New York Art Exhibit. The annual contest solicits entries throughout the state from LeadingAge New York trade association members, including residents, staff and volunteers of skilled nursing facilities, and Adult Day Health Care Council (ADHCC) members.  

‘East End Vista’ by Johanna Cutolo

Ms. Hren was presented with the Staff Choice Award for her acrylic painting entitled “Fall with Birch”; Ms. Cutolo received the Contributing Staff Artist award for her oil painting entitled “East End Vista.” Both winning pieces will be on display at the LeadingAge corporate office in upstate Latham.

Gurwin’s residents are perennial participants in the contest and have garnered awards over the years for their creative artwork. Ms. Cutolo has lead art-therapy programs at Gurwin since the community opened its doors in 1988; this year marks her first foray into the competition as a contestant. 

‘Fall with Birch’ by Victoria Hren

“I am thrilled to have been selected as a winner and honored to be able to represent Gurwin in the LeadingAge Art show,” said Ms. Cutolo. “I am equally pleased hat Ms. Hren’s artwork was chosen by the judges. It is a privilege to guide our residents in their artistic expression and watch their creative abilities develop.”

“I studied art in high school, I like to paint scenes of nature and it relaxes me,” said Ms. Hren.

LeadingAge New York is a statewide advocacy organization representing not-for-profit and public continuing care organizations. Its annual art exhibit highlights the many quality creative programs that foster self-expression and artistic fulfillment for member skilled nursing community residents and adult day health programs participants throughout the state.

‘A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart, leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it.’ – Irving Penn

By Heidi Sutton

Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Commack revealed the winners of its 29th annual Photo Contest at an award ceremony and reception at the recently opened Fountaingate Garden’s Life Plan Community’s Clubhouse on Sept. 20. The highlight of the evening was a traditional slide show of the winning selections from this and previous years. Winners were also given the option of sending in a video describing their photo and process.

Sponsored by the Tiffen Company, this year’s competition drew over 700 entries from amateur photographers across the country. Of those submissions, 32 photos were chosen to be enlarged, framed and hung on permanent display in the nursing home. The beautiful images will be on exhibit in the Helen and Nat Tiffen Gallery for a year and will then move up to the resident units.

The event is the brainchild of Dennine Cook, Chief Corporate Communications Officer oat Gurwin who started the contest in 1993 as a way of “making [Gurwin’s] blank walls more homelike.” 

“That first year we had 60 entries in color and black and white. All the enlargements were made from negatives and slides and mounted on foamboard so we’ve really come a long way,” said Cook. “Now our contest reguarly receives more than 700 entries.”

Cook spoke of how the pandemic has taken an emotional toll on the residents at Gurwin. “For a long time they could not have visitors and often the only bright spot was seeing that familar photos outside their doorway … Your photos added some light and were appreciated more than you know.”

“This contest, although competitive and a great achievement for you as a photographer, is really about the people who get to see your work,” said Cook. 

“These are challenging times for all of us … and your photos help to beautify all of our facilites,” added Stuart B. Almer, President and CEO of the Gurwin Healthcare System, before the winners were announced

This year’s judges, Christopher Appoldt (Christopher Appoldt Photography), Brandon Klein of The Tiffen Company and Tony Lopez (Tony Lopez Photography), were given the difficult task of choosing a grand prize winner along with honorable mentions for 12 categories as well as Best in Show, which this year was awarded to Deidre Elzer-Lento of Northport for “Rainbow Over LIPA Stacks,” and Best In Show Runner-Up.  

Elzer-Lento spoke about the day she took the photo. “A storm was blowing through and I watched at my window until sure enough, a full double rainbow appeared.” She raced out to her backyard and took the picture over and over until she got that perfect shot. 

This year’s Best In Show Runner-Up was awarded to Aaron Needle of Merrick for his sports photo titled “Safe!” Needle spoke of how he took the action photo during one of his son’s baseball game. 

“All the selections, whether they be Honorable Mentions, Grand Prizes or Resident/Staff selections will be judged, discussed and enjoyed by so many appreciative eyes for years to come and to me that’s the real honor — that your photos will hang for decades here in our resident’s home,” said Cook.

The annual contest does not accept digital entries, only 8 × 10 prints, which are not returned. However, Cook was quick to assure the audience that all of the submissions will be put to good use. “[The residents] use them in art therapy as painting and drawing inspiration and in crafting classes. It’s become a great resource here at Gurwin and everyone is very grateful.”

2022 WINNING SELECTIONS
Best in Show

‘Rainbow Over LIPA Stacks’ by Deidre Elzer-Lento

Best in Show Runner-Up

‘Safe!’ by Aaron Needle

Action/Sports Category

Grand Prize

‘Fly with Me’by Michelle Nickerson

Honorable Mention 

‘Mirror Image’ by Frank DiBenedetto

Altered/Enhanced Category

Grand Prize 

‘Northport Dock’ by Ellen Gallagher

Honorable Mention 

‘Mythical Forest’ by Ellen Gallagher

Children’s Category

Grand Prize 

‘Watermelon Joy’ by Avihai Vaday

Honorable Mention 

‘Julia’ by Mike DiRenzo

Landscapes Category

Grand Prize

‘Among the Aspen’ by Meryl Lorenzo

Honorable Mention 

‘Mabry Mill’ by Carol Goldstein

Long Island/ New York Category

Grand Prize 

‘After the Storm’ by Debbie Monastero

Honorable Mention 

‘Gamecock Cottage’ by Robert Oliva

Nature Category

Grand Prize 

‘Mother Nature’ by Alan Sloyer

Honorable Mention 

‘Autumn’s Litter’ by Tom Caruso

People Category

Grand Prize 

‘Road Work’ by Vic Carlin

Honorable Mention 

‘Moroccan Merchant’ by Herb Knopp

Pets Category

Grand Prize 

‘Snow Day’ by Katie Scherer

Honorable Mention  

‘Baxter Wants a Treat’ 

by Dianne Boothe

Still Life Category

Grand Prize 

‘Farrier’s Tools of the Trade’ by Dianne Boothe

Honorable Mention 

‘Wine & Cheese’ by Bobbie Turner

Travel Category

Grand Prize 

‘Grazing on the Meadow’ by Carol Milazzo DiRenzo

Honorable Mention 

‘Sunset Surf’ by Erin Bonitz

Wildlife Category

Grand Prize 

‘Eastern Phoebe’ by Frank Silverman

Honorable Mention 

‘American Beauty’ by Debbie Monastero

Student Category

Grand Prize 

‘The Vessel’ by Emma Azevedo

Honorable Mention 

‘A Walk in the Park’ by Noah Gorlewski

Resident/Staff Selections

‘Blue Eyes’ by Lora Ann Batorsky

‘Summer Wave’ by Michael Danielson

‘Baby Isla’ by Nicole Eberle

‘Who’s There?’ by Fred Fenster

‘Port Jeff Ferry’ by Les Goldschmidt

‘Just Chillin’ by Alan Sloyer

Entries for next year’s photo contest will be accepted between Feb. 15 and April 15, 2023. For more information, visit www.gurwin.org/about/photo-contest/.

 

Jennifer Kennedy. Photo courtesy of Gurwin

St. James resident Jennifer Kennedy, RN, Gurwin Healthcare System’s Vice President for System Integration, has been inducted into the Hall of Honor in the McKnight’s 2022 Women of Distinction awards, a joint program of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, McKnight’s Senior Living and McKnight’s Home Care.

The program, now in its fourth year, recognizes women who have made significant contributions to the senior living, skilled nursing, or home care professions or who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to the fields. Hall of Honor inductees are at the level of vice president or equivalent, and Veteran VIPs are women who have more than 15 years of experience in the industry and who are in positions at a level lower than vice president or the equivalent.

“We are so fortunate to have leaders like Jen Kennedy on our team,” said Gurwin President and CEO Stuart B. Almer. “Her commitment to our seniors is exceptional, and her innovative approach to ensuring quality care for each person we serve is inspirational. I am delighted to congratulate Jen on this recognition.”

John O’Connor, McKnight’s Editorial Director, lauded the accomplishments of all 2022 inductees. “They really stand out for the impact they have made on long-term care in general and on colleagues, residents, and clients in particular,” he said. Nominations were judged by an external panel of industry experts. All winners were honored at an awards celebration in May.

Julia Salmon-Allen received her second dosage on Jan. 11. Photo from Gurwin

Staff members at Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Commack were first in line to receive the initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in December, and they made history again 21 days later as those who received their first dose of the two-dose Pfizer BioNTech vaccine on Dec. 21 received their second at a clinic run by Walgreens at the skilled nursing facility  on Jan. 11.

The vaccine, a two-dose regimen that provides up to more than 90% resistance to the COVID-19 virus, received Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA in December, and long-term care workers and residents were prioritized to receive the potentially life-saving vaccines ahead of the rest of the population.

“I received my second dose of the vaccine today, along with many of my colleagues and residents,” said Julia Salmon-Allen, a Certified Nursing Assistant at the Gurwin Center. “I have been worried about getting COVID-19 since March, and if this will protect me, my family and our residents, I’m happy to sign up.”

“I feel great physically, and also reassured knowing that this is a step forward,” said Stuart B. Almer, President and CEO of the Gurwin Healthcare System, of which the nursing and rehabilitation center is a part of. “Our community has been on edge for months, especially our family members who have not been able to visit since March. The vaccine is a positive step in the direction of bringing families back together with their loved ones.”

NYS mandates still require nursing homes to go 14 days without any positive cases of COVID-19 among staff or residents in order to allow visitation.

In addition to providing second doses, Walgreens staff also began vaccinating additional staff and residents with their initial dose. They will receive the second dose on the 1st of February.

With flu season’s arrival amid the coronavirus pandemic and public division over preventative protocols, residents and staff of the Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Commack took matters into their own hands, launching their first-ever Public Service Announcement (PSA) educational campaign. The 45-second PSA video highlights simple everyday practices to keep illness at bay while the nation awaits the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Preventing the spread of illness in the elderly population is critical, and during the current crisis has taken on more urgency. Mitigating the flu through vaccine and personal hygiene habits has been shown to reduce sickness and hospitalization, this at a critical juncture when healthcare resources are strained due to the pandemic. Calls to “Wear a mask,” “Wash your hands” and “ Do your part” can be heard throughout Gurwin’s “Stop the Spread” video campaign from both employees throughout the 460-bed nursing home, as well as the residents themselves, who are among the most vulnerable. Social distancing and flu shot recommendations are also voiced by campaign participants.

The Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Commack recently announced the winners of their 27th annual Gurwin Photo Contest. Thirty winning photos were chosen from among more than 450 entries for permanent display in the 460-bed nursing and rehabilitation facility. 

Taking top prize of Best in Show this year was Jan Golden for her photo “Happy Family.” Best in Show runner up was Barbara McCahill for “Three Amigos.” Both photographers are from Stony Brook. 

In light of the times and in the interest of safety, the awards ceremony was held virtually via Zoom, and included video commentary by winning contestants. Zoom participants enjoyed a slideshow presentation of the year’s winning selections, as well as winners from past contests. 

The virtual format made it possible to have winners send in prerecorded videos of themselves, offering an inside look at the story behind their photos, their love for photography and their thoughts on what it means for their photos to be selected as winners in the Gurwin Photo Contest.

Gurwin’s renowned photo contest is much anticipated each year. The striking photos hung in the Center’s Tiffen Gallery — named for perennial contest sponsor The Tiffen Company after founder Nat Tiffen — are a signature element of the warm and welcoming environment at Gurwin. Each year, winning portraits are added to the gallery, with older photos moved to resident units for year-round enjoyment. 

More than 1000 photos now adorn the walls of the nursing and rehabilitation center and are admired daily by residents, staff and visitors alike.

Tony Lopez (Tony Lopez Photography) and Chris Appoldt (Chris Appoldt Photography) served as judges for the contest. Residents and staff members also participated in the selection process, choosing winners in the “Resident/Staff Selections” category. 

Photos not selected for display are utilized by Gurwin’s Therapeutic Recreation team as inspiration for art therapy projects, as well as for reminiscence programs for those with memory impairment, deeming every submission a “winner.”

“The community support we have received since the Contest’s inception nearly three decades ago is remarkable and serves to enhance the beauty of our Center,” said Stuart B. Almer, President and CEO of the Gurwin Healthcare System, of which the Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center is a part.

“The installation of the new artwork throughout our Center is something we all look forward to, and we are particularly touched by the continued support of the community during such a challenging year,” he added.

The Gurwin Photo Contest opens each year for submissions on February 15. Information on the contest can be found at www.gurwin.org/about/photo-contest/.

2020 WINNING SELECTIONS
Best in Show

‘Happy Family’ by Jan Golden/Stony Brook

Best in Show Runner-up

‘Three Amigos’ by Barbara McCahill/Stony Brook

Action/Sports Category

Grand Prize

‘Barrel Racer’ by Frank DiBenedetto/Coram

Honorable Mention 

‘Fighter Planes Chasing Eagles’ by Jane Solomon/Old Bethpage

Altered/Enhanced Category

Grand Prize 

‘American Eagle’ by Mike DiRenzo/East Yaphank

Honorable Mention 

‘Boat Ride Around’ by Ellen Gallagher/Melville

Children’s Category

Grand Prize 

‘Sibling Love’ by Debbie Monastero/Bohemia

Honorable Mention 

‘Here I Come’ by Sarah Holmstrom/Smithtown

Landscapes Category

Grand Prize

‘Richardson Highway’ by Carol Goldstein/Setauket

Honorable Mention 

‘Napali Coastline’ by Deidre Elzer-Lento/Northport

Long Island/ NY Category

Grand Prize 

‘The Hot Dog Stand’ by Robert Guido/Huntington

Honorable Mention 

‘East End Americana’ by Dianne Booth/Bohemia

Nature Category

Grand Prize 

‘Blue and His Fish’ by Carol Goldstein/Setauket

Honorable Mention 

‘Solo Bloom’ by Jan Golden/Stony Brook

People Category

Grand Prize 

‘Torah Scribe’ by Herb Knopp/East Northport

Honorable Mention 

‘Calling It a Day’ by Tom Caruso/Smithtown

Pets Category

Grand Prize 

‘Best Friends’ by Sarah Holmstrom/Smithtown

Honorable Mention  

‘I Got Caught!’ by Deidre Elzer-Lento/Northport

Still Life Category

Grand Prize 

‘Workbench’ by Robert Oliva/Smithtown

Honorable Mention 

‘Just Hanging’ by Deborah Jahier/Huntington Station

Travel Category

Grand Prize 

‘Queenstown’ by Meghan Scherer/East Northport

Honorable Mention 

‘Three Brothers’ by Carol Milazzo-DiRenzo/East Yaphank

Wildlife Category

Grand Prize 

‘Dinner Time’ by Debbie Monastero/Bohemia

Honorable Mention 

‘Puffin Interaction’ by Bobbie Turner/Bohemia

Student Category

Grand Prize 

‘Alone in the Unknown’ by Anne Koszalka/East Williston

Honorable Mention 

‘Aspen After Dark’ by Joshua Sukoff/Huntington

Resident/Staff Selections

‘Can I Help You’ by Alan Sloyer, M.D.

‘New Mother’ by Bobbie Turner

‘Baby Kit Fox Leaving Its Den’ by Chuck Goodman

‘Facetime Surprise’ by Michael Oross

Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, 68 Hauppauge Road, Commack will host a holiday-themed Festival of Lights drive-thru light display on its campus on Monday, Dec. 14 and Tuesday, Dec. 15, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The display will feature thousands of blue, gold and white lights arranged in a variety of scenes and include inflatable menorahs, dreidels and other holiday fun. Guests will be able to tune their car radio to a special FM station (107.7 FM) for a musical accompaniment to the visual experience.

“The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone, and we wanted to provide some cheer and a thank you to the communities that have helped our residents and honored our healthcare heroes this year,” said Stuart B. Almer, President & CEO of Gurwin Healthcare System.

Guests are urged to brighten the season for nursing home residents by bringing donations of unwrapped gifts  including puzzle books and pens, fuzzy holiday socks and other personal gifts.

The event is made possible by the generosity of sponsors, including Ambulnz (Presenting Sponsor), Advantage Title Agency, Inc., Gensler Cona Elder Law, Huntington Hospital Northwell Health, Setton International Farms, Unidine, Austin Williams and Jackson Lewis, PC.

The display is free of charge and no reservations are needed. For more information call 631-715-2563. Posts on social media can use the hashtag #GurwinLights.

Sue and Rob Seiler (far right, back row by tree) poses with members of Gurwin assisted living staff as they receive their meals from Dix Hills Diner. Photo courtesy of Gurwin Jewish

Commack: Gurwin Jewish~Fay J. Lindner Residences staff, like employees at all senior living facilities, have been on the frontline of the battle during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, a group of local community members took note and decided to treat the health care heroes at Gurwin’s assisted living facility to a pleasant and delicious surprise.

Resident family members Sue and Rob Seiler of Huntington joined with other family members to create a GoFundMe, with the goal of showing their appreciation for the dedicated Gurwin staff. After raising almost $1500, they partnered with Dix Hills Diner owners Michael Akapnitis and Peter Giannitsas to provide a delicious lunch for employees.

Seiler describes the food drop off as a win/win, showing appreciation to Gurwin staff members while giving a financial boost to the diner, also impacted by the pandemic. She says she and the others were inspired by the donations they were seeing larger healthcare facilities receive. 

“This place might be smaller than some hospitals and healthcare chains, but it’s big to me,” Seiler said about Lindner Residences, a 201- apartment community where her mom has lived since 2016. 

The effort provided nearly 100 meals for the staff. “Each and every one of our staff members are heroes, coming to work every day to take care of our residents despite the multitude of personal and family challenges they faced,” said Michael Letter, Administrator/COO of the Fay J. Lindner Residences. “We want to thank Sue, Rob, and the entire group for their generosity and thoughtfulness.”

‘Ballerina on Malecon, Cuba’ by Roni Chastain received an Honorable Mention (People Category) in last year’s contest.

Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Commack has announced it is extending the deadline for submissions to its 27th annual photo contest to July 1 in light of the stay-at-home order that has been in place during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Garnering submissions from across the globe, the unique contest offers amateur photographers and students an opportunity to be recognized for their work, as well as the chance to make an impact on the lives of those who live at the 460-bed nursing and rehabilitation center. 

Winning photos are placed on permanent display in the Center’s Tiffen Photo Gallery for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike. 

“We understand that the many social distancing orders in place for the sake of safety may make it difficult for some contestants to capture the ideal shots they would like to submit. We are hoping to accommodate our many talented photographers by extending the submission deadline until June 15th,” said Dennine Cook, Chief Public Relations Officer at Gurwin, and creator of the renowned photo contest.

“We encourage all those participating to proceed with caution and take advantage of the warm weather!” added Cook.

Traditionally, a reception has been held at the Gurwin Center where winning photographers are presented with their cash prizes, award certificates and/or trophies. An award ceremony is anticipated to be held in the fall, with event details available at a later date.   

Applications are available at www.gurwin.org/about/photo-contest/ or by calling 631-715-2575.

This article was updated on June 12 to reflect a change in the deadline date.

'The Great Migration' 2019 Best-in-Show winner by Bryan Ray Image from Gurwin Jewish

Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Commack invites all amateur photographers, including students, to submit entries for its 27th Annual Photo Contest. Winners of the unique contest have the distinct honor of not only receiving recognition and prizes for their work, but also the privilege of helping to enhance the lives of those who live and work at Gurwin as winning photographs are permanently displayed throughout the facility.

Those selected will be invited to a reception at the Gurwin Center (TBA) where they will receive their cash prize, award certificate and/or crystal trophy. Photographers may submit up to seven printed color or black-and-white 8×10 or 8×12 photographs for a fee of $5 per entry.  Entry forms are available for download online at www.gurwin.org/about/photo-contest or by calling 631-715-2568.  The deadline for submissions is April 15.